Why We Do What We Do 

July 2019

 

We had a really good discussion at council in June at Bethany, about how we do worship and the various liturgies we use, how we can use the screen and fix the sound system to 

better serve us.

 

It was a multi-layered conversation that ran between going back to older settings of worship more often versus moving forward and looking ahead to newer ways to worship. Why we don’t do communion row by row at the altar rail. There are concerns about the lack of children and young families (always a concern in the church) and of course, talk of doing a congregational survey about such matters. In my opinion surveys do little but divide communities.

 

That is what I would like to speak to first. The Church is not a “democracy” where the majority gets their way and if you’re on the other side of the issue you need to simply adjust. We are a “Theocracy” acutely aware that God in Christ Jesus lives among us and we are constantly trying to see where God is leading us in all things - including worship. Our congregations have indeed changed over the last years and we make decisions through our councils to be sensitive to all sides of things that come up in the church knowing that we can’t please everyone. 

 

As far as communion practices, the preferred way is the way we have done it all these years, continuously. It is so funny to me - I never asked for our previous practice to change to continuous every time. It simply started getting set up that way - it just happened that way. Last year the council at Bethany decided (not the pastor) to invite people to come up, get their bread and wine and take as much time at the rail on their knees as they wish. That way, the many who can’t kneel anymore feel like they are still a part of everyone else during the sacrament. The invitation is printed in the bulletin and you see that there are those that are starting to get the hang of it.  So then it brings another discomfort: if you sit in the back of the church you may feel rushed at the rail knowing that we are finishing up. Please think about either sitting closer to the front, or when the time comes for communion, get up and get in line earlier, that way you will have time at the rail.

 

As far as Liturgy is concerned, there are 4 parts to it: Gathering, Word, Meal, and Sending.  There are many kinds of liturgy we can do or learn. There are 10 alone in the newer red hymnal which we don’t have (I have copyright to print different things). And there are more than 5 in the green book. I feel responsible for adapting our worship so that anyone, any visitor can follow along easily and to quickly feel a part of us.  That is why we have moved away from older liturgies that are more complicated for newcomers, toward a more relaxed liturgy, which is setting 10 in the newer red book.  I don’t mind using the older settings occasionally, it’s fun to go back sometimes. But they do not bring people back to the church or make new people feel comfortable.

 

We Gather: share the peace, confess our sins and hear the word of forgiveness. We sing songs of praise to God throughout and listen to the Word in scripture and preaching. The only thing we don’t do is have the Meal each time, even though Jesus tells us that whenever we gather we should participate in the meal to remember him.  That’s something we could work on. I’ve heard a million excuses it seems over the years as to why we shouldn’t.  Everything from “that’s too catholic” to “it won’t be special if we do it too often.”  Those are about our own attitudes not about following what Jesus wants for us. We can continue that conversation another time. 

 

 

Then we are Sent out into the world to do the will of God, singing as we go! And don’t forget, fellowship is also a part of our worship. Spending time getting to get to know one another builds community and strengthens God’s people! And together, these are the components of 

Lutheran worship.

 

Going to church is not just about getting something out of it, although that is part of it. Sometimes the Spirit of God wants you there because someone else needs a kind word from you!

 

How we do all of these things tells the visitor and the stranger how welcoming we are.

 

Please let us together put our trust in the One who sustains us.  Life in the church goes up and down over the years, but we never stay down - God in Jesus lifts us up again! It is the nature of God to do just that.  Keep asking: “Where are you leading us, O Lord?” And then answer that question with:

 

“Thank you for leading us, O Lord!”

 

Peace in the One who loves us.

 

Pr. Wendy

© 2019 BETHANY LUTHERAN CHURCH
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